As one of the most digitally advanced economies, Sweden has some of the fastest networks in the world and a highly digitally adept population. But what do Swedish households use the Internet for? Fredrik Edwall investigates.
Sweden is one of the world’s most digitally advanced economies, ranking 3rd of the 27 EU Member States in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). The Swedish government outlined a digitalization strategy in 2017 (‘Completely Connected Sweden’) that sees it aiming to become a world leader in unlocking the potential of its digital economy and population. This strategy advocates that digitalization will lead to a more efficient public sector, improved social services, a greener Sweden and a better quality of life for its citizens.
One of the most important keys to unlocking Sweden’s digital potential is the digital skills of its people. Here Sweden does exceptionally well, with 72% of its population having at least basic digital skills, 46% having more advanced skills and the proportion of ICT specialists in the workforce (7.5%) ensuring that it ranks 2nd in the EU for digital skills. In addition, 21% of Sweden’s ICT specialists are female[i].
However, the EC has warned that Sweden cannot take its digital literacy for granted. In 2020, over 55% of companies seeking to recruit ICT specialists reported that it was hard to fill vacancies. In fact, the industry organisation Swedish IT and Telecom Industries estimated that Sweden would have a shortfall of 70,000 ICT specialists by 2024 unless action was taken.
Digital or digitally associated skills therefore continue to be a focus area in Swedish education with the EC noting that it’s important for Sweden to take action to increase these – particularly amongst women.
Such skills begin in the home and classroom. The good news is that only 3% of Swedes have never used the Internet, and these are largely in the over 75 age group. Out of a population of 10.4 million, 84% of Swedes benefit from fixed broadband at home and, with an average speed of 164Mbit/s[i], Swedes can use their home broadband for a wide variety of tasks. Those living in remote areas - or who wish to connect their country homes, cars or boats - have the option of mobile broadband, which is supported by a well-developed mobile infrastructure that means virtually every inhabited area has access to 4G. This is also now being supplemented by a growing 5G footprint (since 5G launched in 2020).
Recent Subtonomy research reveals that virtually everyone in Sweden is using broadband for basic tasks and to keep in touch with family and friends - building familiarity and digital skills. Statistics Sweden notes that currently, 89% of 16-to-85 year olds (or 7.3 million people), now use the internet every day.
With such an important role in the everyday lives of its population, it’s essential that Swedes have a reliable as well as performant internet connection. If it goes wrong, they expect their ISP to fix the problem quickly – irrespective of whether they’re connecting over fixed or mobile infrastructure. This is regarded as so important by Swedes that 45% say they are prepared to pay a little extra each month for guaranteed service quality and better support. Meanwhile, how well their ISP maintains service quality, as well as the support they provide, are both key criteria when Swedes go shopping for a broadband provider.
To discover more insights into the Swedish broadband market, why not download our new research paper The state of Mobile & Broadband Customer Support 2022
[i] From EC DESI index 2021
[ii] Ookla January 2022